In the hospital it was customary for the “father” to ring a bell letting others know a baby had been born. So while I was being taken to a room, Carol and her daughter followed the nurse (who had Judah) to the nursery to ring the bell. While walking to the nursery the nurse asked Carol, “So, are you the proud grandmother?” Are you kidding me? Did the nurse not notice how Carol kissed me on the lips and how she intimately held me as Judah was being born? And the best thing she could come up with was Carol was the grandmother? Ooooh! Ich! Did she really think I had a weird relationship with my mother? I don’t know of any mother’s who would have been that intimate with their daughters. CRAZY! Well, needless to say that irritated Carol. Annoyed she corrected the nurse and told her she was the baby’s other mother. I never did ask Carol how the nurse responded to her correction because I was stuck on the fact she seemed to have no idea that we could possibly be a couple. And so was my point in my first chapter.
OK so, before I continue I need to back up a bit. During my pregnancy I discovered my father was forging my name and giving creditors my contact information. So convenient of him. It wasn’t hard for him to do as we shared the same last name which was NOT common (as NO ONE in my state even shared the name) and his initials were NM and mine were MN. I found out my dad was doing this when I started getting calls from debt companies claiming I owed them money. Knowing I had NOT ignored paying any of my bills I thought it was very strange. Well, folks, you won’t believe how I discovered what my dad was doing. One of the times a creditor called I asked her to tell me the amount of the bill and to whom I didn’t pay. I wanted to know specifics (which was my right meanwhile like hell was I just going to pay someone without knowing the details). Would you believe she wouldn’t tell me? What the hell? I got mad and told her I would never pay any bill of mine without knowing what the charges were and who they were for. Only then did she say, “Ma’am, it was for issues with your penis.” Yep, you heard me correctly. That was what she said.
Folks, I think you could have heard crickets on my end of the phone. Meanwhile because it sounded so crazy I was certain I hadn’t heard her correctly. Did she just call me ma’am and say,”my penis?” After the crickets left the building I about fell over with laughter. Was I being punked? Where was the Candid Camera group. This just couldn’t have been real. I pressed the woman on the phone even more and she finally told me my bill was for being impotent due to an accident I had and also because of my age. The crickets reentered the building! Really? Now, if she had gone on to tell me it was for a sex change I would have seen the entire situation less ridiculous. But this however was absurd! I clearly was the wrong person. Couldn’t she tell? I tried to tell her she was looking for my father. Folks, this woman refused to believe me. It was nuts! Now, here’s the best part. Yes, it gets better. At the time of this call I was six months pregnant. To me it seemed obvious I was not the person who owed on the delinquent bill but nothing I said was getting through to the collection agent. I even offered to send her a letter from my OB/GYN letting her know I clearly was not a man. Over and over again I tried to explain to the collection agent that it was my father but the collection agent would not listen. I even bluntly said, “No one in our home had a penis (well, not yet that was). I really thought telling her I was pregnant would have helped but it made no difference. She’d only say, “Ma’am that’s not my problem. All I know is what you owe. Now, do you want to pay by credit card?” I thought I was going to pull my hair out. Luckily, I had a ton of it because I certainly needed it for this situation. When she asked if I would like to pay by credit card I was done with our conversation. Gosh, silly me…I didn’t mean to drop the phone onto the receiver but the stupidity of the entire conversation made my arm go weak and it someone landed on the receiver accidentally hanging up on the collection agent. Oh my!
I couldn’t wait for Carol to get home from work to tell her what had happened. It was SO INCREDIBLY funny and yet SO INCREDIBLY sad at the same time. When Carol got home I told her about what had happened. Carol’s first response was “WHAT?” Yep, that was it. Just “WHAT?” And then she went on to say,”This is a really bad joke, however only you could this happen to. Only you!” And you know something? She was right. How was it that the craziest things could happen to me? But folks, I’d have to say this was at the top of the list. Meanwhile no matter how absurd, I had to do something about it. I had no choice but to contact a lawyer to find out what I needed to do. He suggested the best thing to do (especially to avoid any future creditors of my dads) would be to change my last name. And so while I started that process the lawyer also contacted the collection agency to clear up the “misunderstanding”. Nothing like having a lawyer clear up the “confusion”. Thank goodness!
Changing my name wasn’t a quick task nor was it easy. Oh, it was easy legally. That was nothing compared to the emotional. I had loved my last name. It was mine and it was what made me unique. I never wanted to change it. Now, even though what my dad had done was wrong it was a blessing in disguise. Since Carol and I were having a baby (and since we weren’t in an area where she could adopt him to be the other legal parent, I found it was better for all of us share the same name. That way it would make it more difficult to the “outside” world to know who was the biological mom and it would give the impression we were all related. However, I wasn’t prepared or ready to lose my identity which was how I felt. So, I decided to get rid of my middle name entirely (which was after my father’s first name) and take Carol’s last name hyphenated with my mom’s maiden last name. I know it seemed confusing but I needed to hold onto something of my families. And at least we all would at the very least have one part of our names the same. My name change came not long before Judah was born which was nice.
So, back to us being at the hospital after just having had our son. Carol had rung the bell (which was so cool) and I was taken to a room where I would be for about three days. It seemed to have taken Carol a long time before she came back to the room. However, she was waiting for them to get through with doing all of the usual tests to Judah and she wanted to come back to the room with him (as we had requested to have Judah with us) When Carol returned with Judah and of course a nurse, I’ll never forget the nurse going over the “rules” with us. One of the rules was we were NOT allowed to lie in the bed while holding Judah. Meanwhile as the nurse is telling us these things Carol and I really weren’t even listening. Instead we were staring at our new precious baby ready to hold him. When the nurse left we took a deep breath. FINALLY, we were alone. Carol took my hand and said, “Well, babe, you did it. You made it happen and we now have our beautiful baby boy.” It all still seemed surreal. It was so amazing.
While we were sitting and enjoying our new family, there was a knock on the door. It was a woman from the administration office of the hospital. When she introduced herself as the supervisor for birth records, Carol looked at me with a confused expression. Does the supervisor always go to patient’s rooms? We knew someone was going to come to our room for us to fill out the birth certificate forms but wasn’t it usually a regular administrator? Even more perplexing was this woman already seemed agitated with us when we had never met her before in our life. What the hell was going on?
After she introduced herself she said while pointing to Carol, “I want to make it clear you cannot be on the child’s birth certificate and the child cannot have your name.” I was lying in the bed and Carol was standing next to me. What the hell? We both looked at her and said, “Yes, we know.” The woman continued to be annoyed with us. She seemed to have not heard us. Why did she think we were going to put Carol’s name on the birth certificate? And why did she think we’d forge Judah’s last name? Meanwhile we were going to give the baby my last name which was part of Carol’s last name. That was fact. How ridiculous and INSULTING to send the supervisor down and to assume we were going to do something illegal! Where in the hell did she get that idea?
Carol asked the supervisor if it was common for her to go to all new mother’s rooms. Lets just say, she was NOT happy with that question. In fact she seemed so annoyed by it she wouldn’t even acknowledge what Carol had said. Instead, she just started telling us the amount of trouble we could get into for putting a false name on a birth certificate. At that point Carol said, “OK, hold on here. We don’t understand why you are accusing us of something we haven’t done nor have any intensions on doing. Where did you get that idea?” Carol added, “We are giving the baby her last name (as Carol pointed to me).” The supervisor looked at Carol and rudely asked, “Ma’am, isn’t that your name?” Carol told her that was irrelevant. The fact was the baby was getting the birth mother’s last name. Carol kept throwing her arms up in the air telling the supervisor she was very confused. The more Carol tried to explain the angrier the supervisor got. Finally, the supervisor said while pointing to me, “You as the birth mother CANNOT just take her (while pointing to Carol) name. That is not legal and that does not give you the right to then give your baby her name.” WHAT IN THE FUCKING HELL? What was going on here? Did this bitch go to heterosexual couple’s rooms and make sure the daddy’s were the biological fathers? Meanwhile how dare she just assume we we were going to do something illegal. No one had even spoken to us to get our story before the supervisor came. That supervisor came to us assuming we were going to do something wrong. We were furious and I finally said, “I didn’t just take on her name (point to Carol). That is my legal name!” The supervisor had had enough. She couldn’t understand why we weren’t understanding her. She started raising her voice (treating us like idiots- nothing against idiots but that wasn’t us) and started to explain how the process of legal name change has to be done. As she was telling us I looked over at Carol. By this point she was pacing back and forth saying to herself, “I don’t understand. I don’t understand.” Angrily both Carol and I said at the same time, “Yes, we know because that was what we did.” Carol offered to show her the legal (name change) papers to prove it but would you believe the woman wouldn’t listen? It seemed nothing we said was heard by the supervisor. She had her own agenda of what we were doing and dammit that was it. AND she wanted us to admit that was what we were going to do. BUT, it wasn’t and like hell were we going to be accused of something we weren’t doing. Listen, all of you who have had a baby understands what a special time that is. And so, it was for us. Couldn’t we just have that time in peace? But no, even that had to be interrupted by the stupidity of someone who we felt was targeting unjustly.
After going around and around with the supervisor we could clearly see she had her own mind made up about us and we weren’t going to change it even with the truth. Hell, not even with legal papers were going to change her mind. It was insane! A heterosexual couple is never questioned. Why were we?
With the supervisor in the room Carol told me to call our attorney who had handled our name change. For some reason she didn’t believe I was calling my attorney. Why should I be surprised? She didn’t believe anything else we had said. The fact that I had health insurance under Carol’s policy and the fact that both of our names were on the policy, did she think we lied to them about our names too? And if so, how was it her place to argue it? It was SO crazy and honestly, very dumb on the supervisor’s part. Needless to say, when I reached my attorney he was VERY annoyed when he heard what was happening. He told us to tell the supervisor to call him. He refused to talk to her in our room right after I had just had a baby. When I hung up the phone Carol handed the supervisor our lawyer’s contact information. As she took the paper from Carol and was leaving the room, she told us we wouldn’t be able to fill out any of the paper work (aka the birth certificate) until “this issue got resolved.” As soon as she closed the door Carol shot her a bird and said, “And fuck you too lady.” Carol was fuming with anger. She started pacing the floor calling the woman every name in the book. As for me by the time the woman had left the room I had dismissed it. I knew our attorney would handle it and that supervisor would be eating her words. I also knew she did it because we were a gay couple. AND I knew we would NEVER see an apology. However, what could I do? Meanwhile, I understood Carol’s anger and agreed. That supervisor coming to our room as she did in essence was telling Carol she was not our son’s other parent. The behavior of that woman was cruel. She may have been correct that our son didn’t have any of Carol’s genetic make up, HOWEVER our son was going to have everything else of Carol’s: her love, her attention and most of all her as his parent. But, I knew that and what that supervisor said wasn’t going to change that fact. But, it was in a lot of ways very hurtful to Carol. After all, it was easy for me to sit there and say Carol was the other parent. I was the biological mom and that supervisor wasn’t questioning me as the parent. So, I got Carol’s anger towards that woman and I totally understood why. Listen, if I was pissed off at that woman for anything it was for demeaning the woman I loved who I with no doubts saw as our son’s other parent. How dare that bitch do that! And for that this Momma was mad!
When the hideous woman left I didn’t want our special time to be ruined. I didn’t want to give that kind of power to that woman. I wanted Carol to be with me in the moment of celebrating the birth of our new son and not giving that awful woman anymore thought. Even though Carol was extremely pissed and hurt (to say the least) while she was around me, she didn’t show it. She knew I wanted that time to stay special and without interruption from such bigots. And so, Carol set her anger aside to appease me.
OK, so I would have loved to have said our stay at the hospital was just fine after our meeting with the supervisor. However, that was just the beginning. See, we discovered many of the nurses were VERY uncomfortable coming into our room. Here was the thing. Our floor was packed. There wasn’t one open room. We knew the nurses were understaffed and the ones there were working hard. And so, we couldn’t see where they had time to be so selective.Listen, we could accept them being uncomfortable. We got that and that was OK. Alright, it wasn’t OK but let’s just say we could have dealt with it. BUT, we couldn’t accept not getting the same care and respect as the other patients on the floor. That made these two Momma’s VERY mad. Honestly, that down right PISSED these two Momma’s off.
I bet you’re wondering how we knew the nurses were uncomfortable. Well, it wasn’t difficult. Would you believe they would talk (quite loudly) outside of our room about having to come into our room. And when they did come into our room they would never look at us, they wouldn’t touch me and if we asked a question, they would ignore us. It really seemed so unreal. And so that was when Carol came up with an idea which I loved. And this was when I coined the term, “Don’t make the Momma’s mad!”
While we were mad on the inside, we chose to play a little joke on those bad nurses to laugh on the outside. And so, here was what we did. Whenever we knew a nurse was coming into our room (as we’d hear them argue about coming into our room before they came in) Carol would jump into the bed with me. Hell, if they thought they were uncomfortable at first, we were going to be sure as hell to make them even more uncomfortable. Now listen, I’ve got to explain something here first (before you get any wrong ideas). At the time Judah was born I was a woman who was close to 300 pounds who had just had a watermelon pop out of a hole that was normally the size of a penny. And on top of that I had had an episiotomy. I was sleeping in a small single bed that seemed to barely fit just me let alone another person. SOOOO, needless to say, it wasn’t so easy for Carol to get into bed with me. And when she did she usually had to hold on (for dear life) to the railing to keep from falling out or keep one foot on the floor to balance. SO as you could imagine those nurses were REALLY DUMB if they thought we were “in bed together”. Oh and for the fact Carol was fully dressed. What in the hell could we have possibly have done? At any rate by doing that we achieved our goal and made the nurses even more nervous. You have to admit that was very good of us to find humor in a very frustrating situation. OK, I know some would call it passive aggressive behavior but dammit folks, could you blame us by that point?
We were sorely disappointed that our “in bed together” joke was short lived. After the first day we noticed the same nurse was coming into our room AND she would talk to us. She even would make funny jokes about us being in the bed together. She clearly knew what we were doing and enjoyed playing along. After the third time or fourth time she came into our room Carol asked, “Did you pick the short stick and have to be the one to come to our room?” She laughed and then told us she volunteered to do it. We told her we had heard the other nurses talking and knew they didn’t like coming into our room. Only then did she confirm we were right. And so from that point forward we had our own wonderful private nurse. How many of you could say that?
On the second day in the hospital our doctor came to see us. She sat with us for a good while asking how things had gone. We told her about the supervisor from birth records coming to our room and the nurse situation. Our doctor was not happy with how we were treated. She told us she’d complain but she encouraged us to write a letter too. As you can imagine writing a letter when I got home was not my priority. Having a newborn who didn’t sleep much was hard enough. As mad as we were about what had happened our new baby took precedence. It turned out Judah was jaundice so we had to have a bilirubin bed for him in our home. Because he had it quite badly (even the whites of his eyes were yellow) we had to go to the hospital every day to have blood taken from him to check his levels. It was so stressful to us as new moms. On top of that we had Carol’s daughter who was a teenager living with us. Our plates were full and the kids in many ways forced us to look forward. I did however write a letter to the hospital about 6 months later. In the letter I put the name of the supervisor who visited us and I mentioned and complimented the nurse who went above and beyond by being our “private” nurse during our stay. Unfortunately, I never received a response from the hospital. Even though I didn’t expect one I had hoped I would have been pleasantly surprised with at least an apology. But, just like with everything else Carol and I had been through, we had to let it go and move forward. All of those crazy things just weren’t important. I’d be lying if I said they weren’t upsetting or hurtful but what could we do? If we focused on all of the negative where would that have gotten us? All we could do was to surround ourselves with true friends and our loving families.
I must tell you on a good note that many years later when I returned to this same hospital for two surgeries our experiences were much different. In both cases Carol spent the night with me and NEVER did we feel that because we were a gay couple we were being treated differently. In fact from the person who cleaned our room to the nurses to the folks who brought my meals, they were nothing but kind and sincere. I could only hope that time did make positive changes.